* * C
Assassin’s Creed the movie had some big shoes to fill. While there were things I liked about the film, overall, I wasn’t impressed. Michael “Magneto” Fassbender does a solid job with the protagonist, Callum Lynch, as does Jeremy “Scar” Irons with the villain, Rikkin. Marion Cotillard stands out as Sofia, the inventor of the animus, the science fiction centerpiece of the film. The actors do what they can, but are severely limited by the script.
The story is quite good. It uses elements from more than one of video games the film is based on. There are a few things I disliked. In the games, Callum and the animus existed in the future, but the movie inexplicably sets that part of the story in the present. There are a number of other annoyances. For example, the other assassins don’t bother to warn Callum that their captors are Templars, yet they have every opportunity to.
My biggest issue with the film is the cinematography and the direction. Every time Callum enters the animus, there is a long birds eye view panoramic shot of the scene, often showing details that Callum’s ancestor Aguilar would not be aware of. The first such transition was fine, but subsequent transitions could have moved to Aguilar’s point of view much more quickly.
The flash backs to Aguilar’s life are the best parts of the film, but you are constantly pulled out of them by inter-cut shots of Callum in the animus. For some reason, instead of Callum being unconscious while he is being regressed, he is in a harness and is actually moving around, doing everything Aguilar does in the memory Callum is experiencing. The effects wasted on the Animus could have been better put to use to create a realistic future setting.
It’s too bad that there is so much to dislike about this film, because there are things I really like about it. The premise, that the assassins and their ally, the Sultan, are not evil but are the defenders of free will, whereas the Templars are authoritarians and evil, is an inversion of the historical narrative, where the crusaders were good Christians fighting against the evil Muslim caliphate. While this may make little sense historically, I like the fact that those who want freedom are the good guys and the authoritarians are evil.